Antelope Island Spiders – An Important Part of the Food Web

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A Western Spotted Orbweaver with a bunch of captured Brine FliesA Western Spotted Orbweaver with a bunch of captured Brine Flies

This coming Saturday, August 8, 2015, is the date of the annual Spider Festival on Antelope Island State Park and there should be plenty of spiders to be seen, almost a bumper crop of them! I was out on the island twice last week and there were spiders nearly everywhere I looked. And of course I had to photograph some of them.

Western Spotted Orbweaver with a captured Brine FlyWestern Spotted Orbweaver with a captured Brine Fly

Most of the webs I saw near the shoreline of the Great Salt Lake had plenty of brine flies in them and believe me the spiders won’t even make a dent in the billions of brine flies that there are along the shore of the lake.

A dead Brine Fly and a Western Spotted OrbweaverA dead Brine Fly and a Western Spotted Orbweaver

The spiders feed on insects that they capture in their webs. I know some people find spiders a bit creepy but they do a lot of good too by eating annoying insects like wasps and the brine flies.

A Western Spotted Orbweaver creating a webA Western Spotted Orbweaver creating a web

Personally I am more of a lover of the spiders because they are a part of the natural food chain or web. They eat smaller insects and in turn they become food for birds.

A Western Spotted Orbweaver with the Great Salt Lake in the backgroundA Western Spotted Orbweaver with the Great Salt Lake in the background

There are birds species that nest on the island that bring the spiders to their young to eat. But even they don’t make a huge dent in the number of spiders on the island.

Adult Prairie Falcon resting on a rockAdult Prairie Falcon resting on a rock

And those smaller birds are consumed by the raptors that prey on them. So the next time you see a Prairie Falcon or an American Kestrel on the island you just might want to thank the spiders for being a critical part of the food web. The Antelope Island Spiders creep some people out but I appreciate them for being a part of why the island is so birdy.

Mark your calendars for the 8th of August if you would like to learn more about the spiders on Antelope Island at the festival! Activities start at 11 am and go until 6 pm. For more information call (801) 721-9569.

Life is good.

Mia

5 Comments

  1. Sterling Sanders August 2, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Nice article Mia. I love seeing the spiders on the island. It’s a bit tough trying to get close to a Shrike when your trudging through the sagebrush and trying not to disturb the Orbweaver webs which seem to be everywhere. Last year very few spiders were to be found. Your Prairie Falcon photo is exquisite!! Some day when I grow up, maybe I’ll be able to get a shot as nice as that. Composition, tack sharp detail, the rocky background, and the bird looking back over it’s shoulder make this a “real keeper”. Always fun to read your posts each day.

  2. Elephant's Child August 2, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Spiders role in the food chain is clearer, and less damaging than that of our all so important selves.
    They are often beautiful too.

  3. Patty Chadwick August 2, 2015 at 9:42 am

    Interesting info…love backside view of kestrel…shows feather patterns so clearly…usually see side or more frontal views…like seeing both. I find some spiders quite graceful and beautiful…some, not so much…but am grateful to all for their job as insect population controllers–and food for various other forms of wildlife, including kestrels and hummingbirds.

  4. Utahbooklover August 2, 2015 at 9:19 am

    That’s very interesting Steven. Thanks for the update on this Mia and the great images.

  5. steven kessel August 2, 2015 at 6:23 am

    Lovely spider photos, Mia. Down here in Arizona, our orb weavers get a later start than yours do. It’s a bit paradoxical, I guess, given our hotter climate, but I think that it has to do with our insect season being controlled by the summer rains. We’re getting thunderstorms regularly now and the bugs are really beginning to come out. Spiders — especially orb weavers — will start appearing within days. I can’t wait!

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